Trucks & SUVs

2021 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2021 Toyota Tundra: Here’s How to Choose Between the Two

Shop Toyota’s lineup, and you’ll find that it offers not one but two pickups to choose from – the 2021 Toyota Tacoma and the 2021 Toyota Tundra. Both pickups have been around for quite some time and have come to be known as pretty capable trucks too. And for most, that’s pretty good news. But for indecisive shoppers? That can make choosing between the Toyota Tacoma and the Toyota Tundra pretty challenging. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

A 2021 Toyota Tacoma parked on sand
2021 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

The 2021 Toyota Tacoma is more fuel-efficient

Standard under the hood of the 2021 Toyota Tacoma is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine. According to the EPA, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma earned itself an EPA-estimated 20 mpg rating in the city and an EPA-estimated 23 mpg rating on the highway. Opt for the Tacoma’s available V6 engine, and those fuel-efficiency ratings shift to an EPA estimated 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

As for the 2021 Toyota Tundra? It’s not quite as fuel-efficient as its sibling. According to the EPA, when equipped with a 5.7-liter engine and two-wheel drive, you can expect the Tundra to deliver an EPA-estimated 13 mpg in the city and an EPA-estimated 17 mpg on the highway. 

But the 2021 Toyota Tundra can tow significantly more

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When it comes to towing capabilities, though? The 2021 Toyota Tundra can’t be beaten. Toyota says that thanks in part to its TripleTech frame and integrated tow hitch, this year’s Tundra can tow up to 10,200-pounds when properly equipped. 

Unfortunately for the 2021 Toyota Tacoma, its tow ratings aren’t quite as impressive. Forgo the Tacoma’s available towing package, and you can expect it to tow up to 3,500 pounds. And if you do opt for that tow package? The 2021 Toyota Tacoma can tow up to 6,800 pounds.    

Reliability ratings are a struggle for the 2021 Toyota Tacoma 

Odds are, you want your shiny new pickup to be a reliable one. Unfortunately, that probably means avoiding the 2021 Toyota Tacoma. According to Consumer Reports, this year’s new model isn’t all that reliable. In fact, it only earned a three out of five predicted reliability rating. It also gave the Tacoma a three out of five predicted customer satisfaction rating, which doesn’t exactly bode well for this year’s model. 

Fortunately, the outlook is a bit better for the 2021 Toyota Tundra. While the Tacoma earned itself a pretty low reliability rating, the 2021 Toyota Tundra scored a four out of five predicted reliability rating from Consumer Reports. J.D. Power also gave it a ‘Great’ quality and reliability rating.

Which of these pickups is more expensive?

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Both of these pickups will cost you a pretty penny. But they are pickup trucks, after all. If you’re hoping to save rather than spend, though, the Tacoma boasts a relatively wallet-friendly price tag. Opt for the base 2021 Toyota Tacoma and you can expect to spend about $26,150. Of these two pickups, however, it’s the Toyota Tundra that has a higher base price. While the Tacoma will have you spending less than $30,000 on a base model, you can expect to spend at least $33,675 on a base Tundra.

Is the 2021 Toyota Tacoma or the 2021 Toyota Tundra the better truck for you?

Choosing between these two pickups really comes down to what you’re looking for in your next truck. Suppose you’re in the market for a pickup that delivers impressive fuel economy ratings and won’t send your wallet into a downward spiral. In that case, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma is worth considering. But if you’re after a pickup that can tow a heavy load? Then it’s pretty hard to beat the 2021 Toyota Tundra and its 10,200-pound tow rating.